Astro Bob's Backyard Astronomy: Aurorae missed, but stars will soon be out again
The fog, clouds, snow, and rain have made it difficult in recent days to see the night sky, including recent appearances of aurorae. An appearance tomorrow night will likely be thwarted in the Duluth area by cloud cover.
Do not despair because there will always be more opportunities in the future. And Bob King tells us that if this Friday night is clear (enough), in the western sky we will have an opportunity to see the moon just below Castor and Pollux, the two bright stars of Gemini. Pollux, an orange giant star, is orbited by Thestias, an exoplanet (a planet beyond our solar system) that is at least twice the mass of Jupiter.
You will not be able to see Thestias with the naked eye, of course. But speaking of exoplanets, on March 21st of this year, just 30 years after astronomers first detected exoplanets, astronomers confirmed the total number of found exoplanets to number 5,000. Based on this total, scientists can estimate that the Milky Way alone probably contains around one hundred billion exoplanets. So, there are plenty more for scientists to discover in the years to come, with the hope someday of identifying an exoplanet with an atmosphere that would be able to support life.